Vision Hacker Uses Front-Facing Camera to Create Kinect-Like Experiences on iOS

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By Kim-Mai Cutler Comment

One of the more intriguing developers we’ve come across in our time here in China is Beijing’s VisionHacker, a studio experimenting with games that make use of the iPad’s front-facing camera to create Kinect-like experiences.

The company just released its first app, “Crows Coming”, a game where the player moves their head from side to side to control a scarecrow that’s fending off crows from attacking crops. Players move their head back and forth while the iPad or iPhone’s front-facing camera tracks their face and synchronizes their movements to the scarecrow, which must block birds falling out of the sky.

The three-person company is new to game development and is made up of students from one of China’s more prestigious universities, Tsinghua University, which is closely affiliated with the local startup community in the country’s capital. They’re in the process of raising angel funding.

While rocking your body from side to side might be an unwieldy movement for a handheld game that people will play in two-minute increments of spare time, there’s a lot of promise in Vision Hacker’s technology. Crows Coming might not have the user experience quite right, but perhaps one of Vision Hacker’s future games will.

The company is also considering licensing the technology out to third-party developers in the future. Android is also in the cards at some point, but since many Android devices being shipped at the moment don’t have front-facing cameras, this won’t happen too soon.

Crows Coming, the company’s first game, is still small since it jus launched about two weeks ago without any formal marketing. It has 2,000 users, and because most are from China, about three-fourths of those users have jailbroken devices — meaning they get around paying for the app. (Such is the reality for iOS developers looking to do the paid model in China.)

In any case, we thought VisionHacker’s work is very intriguing in terms of raw technology and game design.